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Barton v. Bee Line, Inc. - 238 A.D. 501, 265 N.Y.S. 284 (App. Div. 1933)

Rule:

A female under the age of 18 has no cause of action against a male with whom she willingly consorts, if she knows the nature and quality of her act.

Facts:

G.M.B., who was 15 years old, was a passenger in a vehicle owned and operated by defendant Bee Line, Inc., a common carrier. G.M.B. claimed that she was forcibly raped by the vehicle's chauffeur and Bee Line's employee. G.M.B., by Frank W. Barton, her guardian ad litem, filed a lawsuit against Bee Line in New York state court. At trial, the chauffeur testified that M.G.B had consented to the sexual relations. It was conceded that if the chauffeur assaulted G.M.B. while a passenger, Bee Line became liable in damages for failure to perform its duty as a common carrier to its passenger. The jury was charged that B.M.G. was entitled to recover even if G.M.B. consented, although consent might be considered in mitigation of damages. A jury rendered a verdict for G.M.B. and awarded her $ 3,000. The trial court set the verdict aside on the ground that if G.M.B. had consented, the verdict was excessive, while if she was outraged, the verdict was inadequate. The trial court thus ordered a new trial. Plaintiffs appealed.

Issue:

Was a new trial warranted?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The appellate court affirmed the trial court's decision. The court held that it was error for the trial court to have instructed the jury that G.M.B was entitled to a verdict even if she consented to consort with the chauffeur. The court held that a person who perpetrated an act of sexual intercourse with a female, not his wife, under the age of 18 years, under circumstances not amounting to rape in the first degree, would be guilty of rape in the second degree. However, a female under 18 years had no cause of action against a male with whom she willingly consorted if she knew the nature and quality of her act. 

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